In this entry I will review some great tips on self massage. Not all of us have the time or resources to go in for a massage every time we need it. I understand this. Though it’s most beneficial to receive a full body massage from a skilled professional, sometimes a little self massage can temporarily alleviate muscle pain and tension until we are able to get in for a session. That being said, here are some great spots to work on that help with those daily aches and common problem areas.
1.) The Brows – A great area for those nagging headaches. Start by applying pressure with your thumbs at the start of the brow bone, closest to the nose. Hold down pressure here for a moment before sliding your thumbs out along the brow bone towards the temples. Repeat slowly several times.
2.) The Chin – This is a great one that most people don’t think of. It works wonders for my headaches as I have a tendency to clench my jaw and hold a lot of tension in my facial muscles. Apply firm pressure with the knuckles of your index and middle fingers. After a few moments of direct pressure, massage out in a circular motion.
3.) Behind the Jaw – This is great for tension headaches in particular. Just behind your earlobe is a small niche directly behind your jawbone. Your thumb fits perfectly here and with firm pressure here for 10 to 30 seconds you can regulate some of the blood flow and help ease the pain associated with tension headaches.
4.) The Shoulders – Poor posture and body mechanics can really be a common cause for tension in the shoulders. A fantastic way to help loosen these muscles a Pincer technique. Lay your hand on the top of your opposite shoulder. Scoop as much of the shoulder muscle as you can in your hand and squeeze. Pinch for about 30 seconds, pulling the muscle forward and down as you move your elbow back.
5.) The Palms – You can find some great tissue to work on in the meat of the palms. They are often neglected and hide unexpected relief when worked on. There are two spots to focus on here. The side closest to the thumb and the side closest to the pinky. Here you can use your knuckles or your palm if you’d like. I prefer using my elbow. With firm pressure, work the meaty areas closest to the wrist in small circular motions. You may feel some crunchy feeling knots in these muscles; this is an easy way to tell if you’re not getting enough water.
6.) The Wrists – For those worrying about symptoms of carpal tunnel, it is a good idea to do regular, preventative stretching and self massage. Stretch your hands up, down, left and right with palms open, then with closed fists. Do this periodically throughout the day if you are using your hands a great deal. Also use your thumb to massage the inside of your wrist. The idea here is to start at the center of the wrist and stretch it outward toward the thumb and pinky finger.
7.) The Forearms – Another great one for people who do a great deal of typing or work with their hands and fingers. Lay your fingers on the top of your forearm just below the elbow. Wiggle your fingers as if you were typing. You’ll be able to feel the muscle in your forearm that controls these fingers. Strip the muscle in an upward motion using your palm or even your forearm if possible.
8.) The Chest – Opening up the chest can also alleviate hard to reach opposing muscles in the back. Using the pads of your fingertips or your palm, work out the tissue running underneath the collarbone in small circular motions. Follow it up with long gliding strokes from the breastbone out toward the shoulder.
9.) The Legs – The best thing you can do for your legs is stretching. I struggle to think of one person that stretches as often as they should. Stretching these large muscles can be uncomfortable at first but try to hold the stretch for 30 seconds to 2 minutes if possible. Holding it for this long causes an extra release in the muscle if you wait for it. Restore circulation by jostling the leg muscles from top to bottom. Another good tip for leg cramps is soaking your legs in Epsom Salts.
10.) The Feet – The feet are amazingly resilient. Just a brief massage for your feet can really restore energy and vitality to them. Rub the pad of each toe with your Thumb use your knuckles in gliding motions along your arches, and finish off the ball of your foot and heel with firm pressure using the palm of your hand.
These tips should help alleviate some tension temporarily until you are able to see a licensed Massage Therapist who is skilled in more thorough manipulation of the soft tissue. Nothing really compares to skilled hands that can reach those tense back muscles you can’t. To see just what my skill and knowledge can do for you, visit my Menu of Massage Services to schedule an appointment. I would love to work on you!